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Black Friday Shopping & Safety Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 15th November 2013

Today’s guest post is by Gabrielle Greene who co-blogs on TipsOnHowToSaveMoney. Her friends often refer to her as “Gaby Gabs A lot,” especially if it has anything to do with freebies and saving money!

Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching and Black Friday shopping is right on its heels. And, this year, the deals are starting even earlier with some retail stores opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

There are two types of people those that love Black Friday and those that hate it! If you fall into the group that loves it and is counting down the days, this post is for you. Below are shopping tips as well as safety tips while shopping.

Black Friday Shopping Tips

  1. Preparation makes the difference – Without a plan, you will get lost in the crowd. Most major retailers have already released their Black Friday in-store specials, so start your research online and outline out a plan. Sites such as TheBlackFriday.com or GotADeal.com to check the best deals. These sites can be extremely helpful before even leaving your home and joining the shopping madness that awaits you.
  2. Use Email Alerts – Stay ahead of the curve with your favorite stores by using e-mail alerts offered by most retailers. Shoppers can see what products are available, which ones are online only or need to be picked up at the store or perhaps if there is free shipping offered.
  3. Social Media is your Friend – Monitoring your favorite retailers on Social Media can also prove helpful because companies commonly offer extra incentives and discounts for liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter.
  4. Smartphone Savvy – Before you pull out of the driveway make sure your smartphone is armed and ready to provide you with key shopping information by downloading a few apps such as – RedLaser and ShopSavvy. The apps help you to compare prices while you are out shopping. Several stores suspend price-match guarantees on Black Friday but try asking for one anyway!
  5. Budget. Budget. Budget. – It goes without saying that the most important part of Black Friday shopping is to save money so create a budget and stick to it!

Black Friday Safety Tips

This year shoppers will be out and abound earlier than any other year and your personal safety is most important from criminals as well as just navigating the crowd.

  1. Avoid being alone if at all possible. And, avoid purchasing more than you can carry.
  2. It was only a few years ago that a man was trampled to death on Black Friday, in New York. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Wear comfortable footwear, such as sneakers, so that you are safe on any type of flooring, whether it be tile or hardwood floor. If the weather is bad that day – depending on where you live – the flooring can be wet and slippery.
  3. Carry your purse close to your body to deter pickpockets and keep your wallet separate.
  4. Before exiting the store, have your keys out and in your hand so that you aren’t fumbling at the car with an arm full of merchandise trying to find them.
  5. Do not leave any packages visible to people passing by your vehicle. Keep them in the trunk if possible.
  6. It may not be an ideal option but try to leave small kids home. If that isn’t an option and you are taking children, keep them close by and if they are old enough, make sure you have a central meeting place.

This post is not meant to be an exhaustive list of tips but rather touches on some of the most important helpful shopping tips and safety measures that shoppers should consider before leaving their home. Happy Shopping & deal hunting!

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Think Inside The Box

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 5th November 2013

Thanksgiving and holidays are a wonderful time for cooking however The Frugal Diva works and wants to enjoy the day just as much as anyone. Why worry about a dry turkey?  Starting today, you can make the holidays a breeze by ordering one of the F & E yummy holiday boxes. Each box serves 8 people for between $50 -$65 including a main course, three or four sides, and a pumpkin pie.  Also, holiday products are beginning to make their way back into stores, so look out for your favorites! Chocolates anyone?

If you are in the mood to cook, Jennie-O frozen turkeys are just .59¢ per lb.

With weather changes and the holiday season getting closer, Fresh & Easy has some great deals this week to help you stock up.

·         fresh&easy boneless beef New York steak twin pack, $4.99 per lb.

·         fresh&easy bacon, 2 for $7 when you buy multiples of 2

·         fresh&easy shredded cheese, 2 for $5 when you buy multiples of 2

·         fresh&easy orange juice, $2.99

·         fresh&easy butter, 2 for $5 when you buy multiples of 2

·         Tostitos or Ruffles, 2 for $6

·         fresh&easy sparkling cider, 2 for $4

·         Montcadi Cava, 2 for $12

Wine is at its best price in the fall, so holiday party planners, start buying now!

Disclaimer: Fresh and Easy has sent The Frugal Diva samples, coupons, and gift cards plus her stepson works there as a buyer.

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New Hyundai

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 9th October 2013

When The Frugal Diva bought the red Geo Prism, it never occurred to me that it would be in my possession for  20 years. Let’s get this straight, I don’t drive a lot (actually it came down to about 5,ooo miles a year) since work has always been close to home or at home, so my attitude toward cars is the easier and cheaper, the better. This translates into my car buying strategy. I’m always looking for a brand that is trying to win it’s way into the American market by giving us starter prices for well rated and appointed autos.

These last two years it’s been Hyundai. There cars are highly ranked by Consumer Reports, they are throwing in a ton of extras, and the prices are usually the best in each category.  A mid size Elantra had been my first choice however it was a bit more than I wanted to spend.  The Accent was one size down and seemed most like the Geo. Tony Mohandessi, the salesman at Glendale Hyundai was so easy to deal with when I made this snap decision to change models. He instantly showed me the car pictured and gave me a great out the door price.

And I have Blue Tooth!

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Vita Cost

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 4th June 2013

There are so many fantastic deals on the Vita Cost site I don’t know where to begin. Vitamins, shampoos, organic foods, protein powders, herbs, and homeopathy are just a few of the items covered.

Let’s start with organic products – 22 ounces of Organic Raw Honey for $6.35, 8 ounces of organic shredded coconut for $2.68, 12 ounces organic whole bean French Roast for $8.20, 16 ounces of Arrowhead Mills organic flax seed for $2.70!

Moving right along to shampoos- 11 ounces of Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo for $4.19, 32 ounces of Avalon Nourishing Lavender Shampoo for $10.67,  18 ounces Nature’s Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Shampoo for $3.90!

Organic Agave sweetener 23.5 ounces for $6.53!

Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent White Flower and Bergamot Citrus 7 lbs for $13.73!

And Aubreys, Alba Botanica, Burts Bees, Jason, Zia!

So many types of vitamins and herbs that you are going to have to see for yourself. Please check for the most recent prices.

Now The Frugal Diva knows what you are thinking. What in the world is it going to cost to ship all this? $4.99 per order – that means if you get one item, two items, or ten items it will cost you $4.99 shipping. Sign up for their emails and find out when they have a special free shipping offer.

And as a diva it’s so nice to have things appear at your doorstep without having to schlep out to the store.

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Posted in Category Test, Fitness/Beauty | 2 Comments »

Deals and Coupons At Sprouts

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 27th February 2013

If a health food store and big box store had a child it would be called Sprouts.  This is a full service market that combines a fabulous produce department (about 40% of the store) with a natural food store’s selection of everything else at great prices.  What does that mean to the average shopper?  If your shopping list includes fresh produce,  organic cereal, whole wheat baguettes, eco friendly cleaning products, grass fed beef, and a teaspoon of rosemary this is the place for you.  With their low shelving, you can find everything you need quickly plus there are no mainstream brands to impede your search. This is for families who want more fresh and additive free food in their diet at the best prices.

While their organic produce section is still pretty small, organic products can be found everywhere else in the store.  Organic eggs, yogurt, and milk in the dairy case. Bottled organic juices, organic honey, and even organic breads under the Sprouts label on the shelves. They carry all the brands you would expect to see in any of the other health food chains however most of the prices are better and with weekly specials you can stock up when prices are really fantastic.  Especially on their own Sprouts brand of vitamins.

About that teaspoon of rosemary, I mentioned. This is something new for me, spices in bulk.  How many recipes do we pass up that have an unusual herb or use a bottle that has been there since we moved in? This is an opportunity to try out something new without wasting money.

Bulk buying is also possible for nuts, chips, and candies (better to buy a little then gorge on a lot).

Wednesday might be hump day to some people, for The Frugal Diva Wednesday is shop at Sprouts day since items from the previous weeks specials and the new specials are available. Twice the possibilities for savings!

Sprouts is proud to partner with Autism Speaks in creating a new Neighborhood Grant Program designed to fund local nonprofit organizations serving children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. As our company continues to grow, so does our ability to make an even greater impact in the neighborhoods we serve. From Feb. 27 to March 13, Sprouts shoppers can help this worthwhile program take root in their community by supporting our “Autism Speaks Puzzle Piece” fundraising campaign.

Sprouts Farmers Market CEO Doug Sanders knows the affects of autism firsthand; his 3-year-old son was diagnosed with autism in 2009. That’s when Sprouts saw an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the autism community through a partnership with Autism Speaks. Under Sanders’ leadership—backed by the support of Sprouts customers, team members and vendors—they have raised an incredible $2.2 million to fund programs that help bring autism awareness and support to local communities.

Another great reason to shop at Sprouts!

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Deals On Meals

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 12th December 2012

Eating at restaurants is inherently expensive however there are ways to whittle down the costs.  Restaurants.com is a big help in this area. They offer discounts in the form of prepurchased gift certificates. Now the most important part is to make sure this includes restaurants that you frequent or would like to try.  Read the restrictions which sometimes include minimum purchase prices and other fine print.

One of the best ways to use this site is for special occasions. You know you are going out for a birthday, anniversary, or to impress your new in-laws. Purchase a $50 gift certificate for $20 and save $30 off the price right away. Many places also offer a $100 gift certificate for $40 which knocks $60 off the bill.  Each restaurant has different rules so please check before you buy. Remember it only saves you money if you actually use the certificate and dining out is within your budget.

If you are in Los Angeles or New York or bi-coastal, try Blackboard Eats. Sign up for their newsletter and start partaking of their deals before they expire. No cost or obligation, just check out what they have to offer. Sometimes it’s a free tapas plate, sometimes a pre fixe dinner, or a global discount on your check. This is fun for interesting places that you might not venture into otherwise.  They cover the gamut from reasonable to high end trendy.

Families love the Entertainment Book , not only do they have many kid friendly restaurants, they also have tickets to a variety of attractions, fun activities like bowling, theater tickets, and exercise classes just to name a few. Right now they are offering two books for the price of $35. This makes a great gift for any family.

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Tuesday Morning All Day Shopping

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 27th November 2012

How to describe Tuesday Morning?

The most interesting yard sale in the world, going through the home of an eclectic shopper, or a surprise every time you shop. All of the above applies. There are not many places that have Chantal cookware, a pet stroller for your puppy, electric patio heater, and an iPod music system for your listening pleasure.  All at a sizable discount. They shop the world for discontinued brands, colors, and styles so that  you can wander among the goodies and find what you need.

This is truly treasure hunting. One time you might find a vortex heater, a telescope, and diamond earrings. The next time none of these however there would be a gorgeous rug, Calvin Klein dinnerware, and Top Flight golf clubs. They usually have selections in kitchenware, bed and bath, home furnishings, children’s toys, luggage, stationary and all manners of small gifts.

They are a 700 store national chain so check them out for unusual items you might not see at a discount any where else. You can also join the loyalty club for additional perks.

When they open on this Tuesday, December 4th at 7:00 AM, they will have a women’s shoe blowout.  Major brands such as Guess, Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole Reaction and my favorite Bearpaw for $29.99.

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Great Sites For Great Deals

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 7th November 2012

Repeat after me, “I will never pay for rush shipping.”  So start your  pre-shopping now.  What I mean by pre-shopping is making  a list, checking  it twice, finding out whose been naughty or nice.  Preparing in advance allows you to avoid last minute decisions and last minute expenses.  Map out birthdays, shower gifts, and all every other gift giving occasion now and be way ahead when the holidays roll around.

Of course we all have have our favorite stores bookmarked. This post is for sites that cover many categories.  For things you need, gifts that can be sent without going to the post office, and stocking up on useful items, online buying is the perfect solution.  However you don’t want to wade through hundreds of sites with bad interface and expired offers.

This first site is so good you might never leave fatwallet.com.  Coupons, user forums, and gateways to all the sites you need to save on everything  including travel. They even have cash back with designated merchants.  Best things first – they let you know which coupons are expiring, the search feature is user friendly, and you can find your favorite companies quickly. Cash back is the most intriguing since who doesn’t like to save and get money back. Of course the payoff is not immediate, however down the line after a waiting period and the vendor pays them, fatwallet.com will send you a check. This is an above and beyond savings. For food coupons and everyday items plus other great features, fatwallet.com is one of the Frugal Diva faves.

A great site for price comparison is pricegrabber.com. They have been around for awhile and pricegrabber.com not only reviews the products, you will also get hundreds and sometimes thousands of reviews on the merchants. This is very reassuring particularly on more pricey items such as computers and digital cameras.

Overstock.com is another great resource. You are buying directly from them and they have a feature that allows you to do an instant price check with another merchant.

Do your own quality checking among consumer reviews and there is always Consumer Reports (subscribe or read it at the library) which is excellent for significant purchases and any electrical appliance.

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H & M

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 6th June 2012

A new chain has been quietly coming to town.  H & M, originally from Sweden, has stores all over Los Angeles including the Beverly Center, Century City, Third Street Promenade, and the Americana in Glendale. They have taken the concept of inexpensive fashion and moved it into the stratosphere with choices for women, men, teens, and kids.  This is the store for those who need to be dressed at the office and like to be fashion forward.  When they say to dress for your next position, start here.

While most of the selections are trendy, keep an eye out for things with good lines and colors that suit your palette. The prices are good and the sales are very, very good.  They have pieces in organic cotton so you can be green and in style.  This is fun for resort and summer shopping - fun times at the beach when when you want more color and t-shirts for those weekend outings.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. This is super for the young and the slim, what about the middle aged and the curvy.  For those not wiggling into skinny jeans, there are fantastic tunic tops and cropped pants.  Or just come here for the accessories. If you want that cute scarf to make an old outfit perk up, if you would like a handbag with a pop of color, and if you occasionally want a trendy item that only lasts one season.   A keen eye will keep you  in style and not break the bank.

Click on H & M and find the store nearest you. And sign up for their newsletter to get coupons and advance word on sales.

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Posted in Fashion | 3 Comments »

Fresh and Easy For Dinner

Posted by The Frugal Diva on 13th January 2010

Just when I thought that everything had been done in the way of markets in comes a new kid on the block.  A little organic, a little convenience, a little gourmet grocery,  and a whole of savings.  There are so many wonderful Fresh & Easy products.  A bag of  frozen turkey meatballs this week for $5.99.  Add some tomato sauce, serve over pasta (99 cents this week), and open a bag of salad greens. That’s fresh, that’s easy.

Now if you want to get really, really easy and still stay really, really fresh.  We are talking about around $2.49 per person for lasagna with meat sauce to keep in your freezer. Cheaper then fast food and better for you.

Every week there are 98 cent produce packs.  Add a little excitement and use them in your cooking.  One week they had onions and red and green peppers. You can julienne slice them, saute, add some capers and olives. Set aside while you pan fry some tilapia and you have a nicoise style topping for your fish. Pick a pack of pears and pair with an interesting cheese for dessert. fresh-and-easy-produce-specials

Yes I did say they are a little gourmet.  Pick up organic teas, fresh juices, fresh baked goods, wine (not at all stores), cheeses, balsamic vinegar along with fresh produce, fish, and meat on your way home.  And they have great sauces – Thai Chili Lime, Smokey Barbecue- and a good selection of spices.  Even pet food for your pooch.  So much good stuff in such a manageable size market.

You can also sign up for the email newsletter where you get weekly updates on specials and coupons. And please remember that all quoted prices are subject to change.

Smaller then a supermarket, more fresh food then a convenience store-this chain is a winner for the Frugal Diva.

Disclaimer: Fresh and Easy occasionally sends The Frugal Diva samples of their products.

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